LAS VEGAS (AFP) - Canelo Alvarez bids to add another chapter to his legacy on Saturday when he steps up two divisions to face WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev in Las Vegas.
The 29-year-old Mexican middleweight king (52-1-2, 35 KOs) is regarded as the betting favourite for what is set to be a clash of youth and speed against Kovalev’s experience and raw punching power.
Alvarez is fighting for the first time since a unanimous decision over Daniel Jacobs in May while Kovalev successfully defended his belt with an 11th round knockout of Britain’s Anthony Yarde in Russia in August.
Although Alvarez has fought at multiple weight divisions, he has never before fought beyond the super-middleweight limit, where he battered Britain’s Rocky Fielding into submission inside three rounds last year.
Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) is likely to prove a tougher nut to crack.
Even allowing for the fact that the 36-year-old has shown clear signs of ageing in some of his recent outings, the Russian remains a heavy-handed threat.
“He’s the best in his division, he’s one of the best, that’s why we chose him, to make history by fighting one of the best,” Alvarez said this week.
“I feel comfortable, I feel good, we’ll see on Saturday how it all goes but I feel good. I trust my endurance, my strength.”
Although Alvarez has already shown his ability to absorb punishment, most notably in his two bruising battles with Gennady Golovkin, Kovalev’s power could cause him problems.
Kovalev meanwhile sees his fight with Alvarez as an opportunity to resurrect his career in the eyes of the boxing world.
The Russian lost his WBA, IBF and WBO belts in back-to-back defeats to Andre Ward in 2016 and 2017, but regained a share of the title after beating Colombia’s Eleider Alvarez in a rematch in February.
“I’m happy,” Kovalev said. “It’s nice that this is the biggest call in my boxing career, and to face Canelo, I’m happy.